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American Economic Journal: Economic Policy: Vol. 5 No. 3 (August 2013)

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Driving under the (Cellular) Influence

Article Citation

Bhargava, Saurabh, and Vikram S. Pathania. 2013. "Driving under the (Cellular) Influence." American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 5(3): 92-125.

DOI: 10.1257/pol.5.3.92

Abstract

We investigate the causal link between driver cell phone use and crash rates by exploiting a natural experiment induced by the 9 pm price discontinuity that characterizes a majority of recent cellular plans. We first document a 7.2 percent jump in driver call likelihood at the 9 pm threshold. Using a prior period as a comparison, we next document no corresponding change in the relative crash rate. Our estimates imply an upper bound in the crash risk odds ratio of 3.0, which rejects the 4.3 asserted by Redelmeier and Tibshirani (1997). Additional panel analyses of cell phone ownership and cellular bans confirm our result.

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Authors

Bhargava, Saurabh (Carnegie Mellon U)
Pathania, Vikram S. (London School of Economics and Political Science)

JEL Classifications

R41: Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise

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